Mindanao Festivals

HARI-RAYA

MICHAELMAS
DAY

COMEDIA

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Islamic festivals have deep spiritual meaning.  In their moments of joy Muslims gather together in prayer as a congregation; they fall prostrate before the Great Maker to thank Him for enabling them to perform their duty.  The two most significant festivals (both called 'id which means "recurring happiness") are: 'Id-al-Fitr (Hari-Raya Puasa) and 'Id-al-Adzha (Hari-Raya Hadji).


HARI-RAYA

The Hari-Raya Puasa is observed on the day that follows the end of Ramadan.   During this festival Muslims start the day with an ablution (ritual cleansing), attend the Id-al-Fitr Congregational Prayer, and listen to the khut-bak (sermon).  The men wear white headpieces; the women, white flowing dresses that cover them from head to foot.  The entire community congregates in the mosque, constructed facing Mecca.  It is not just a day of prayer, but also of festivity.  As soon as the prayers are over, the whole town becomes a joyous mass of people going around in the streets absolving and getting absolved.  Food and drinks are served lavishly.  It is a day of generosity and charity.

The Hari-Raya Hadji is celebrated on the tenth day of the month of Jul-Hadji.   It is the Feast of Sacrifice, during which the wealthy among the Muslims are enjoined to sacrifice a sheep, a goat, or a bull in the name of Allah, and to distribute the meat among relatives, neighbors, and the poor.  The Hari-Raya Hadji is also a day of prayer, of forgiveness, of charity, of family reunion, of rejoicing, and of general festivity.

Other festivals observed among Muslim Filipinos include the sacred festival of Mauliden Nabi, birthday of the prophet Mohammed observed on the twelfth day of the month of Maulud; Mispu, a festival equivalent to the Christian All Saints' Day and celebrated on the fifteenth day of the month of Shaaban or Taitih; Panulak Balah, a festival which falls on the last Wednesday of the month of Sappal and during which all Muslims from all walks of life go to the beach and take a bath to rid themselves of various "evils"; Miraj, a feast held on the twenty-seventh of the month of Rajab during which an account of the Holy Prophet's majestic ascension to heaven is recited in Arabic and translated into the dialect at the town plaza; and Lailat Al-Qadr, the anniversary of the revelation of the Holy Quran held on one of the last two nights of the month of Ramadan.

(Source: Pobre, C.P., et al, 1978. Tuladan, The Philippine South.  Metro Manila, Philippines: The Executive Committee; 160pp.)

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MICHAELMAS DAY

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Vera-Reyes Inc., 1980

For both Muslim and Christian Filipinos in Mindanao, the place to visit on the 29th of September is Iligan City.  Here the Iliganons annually celebrate Michaelmas Day to commemorate the heroic feats of St. Michael the Archangel who is worshipped as both patron saint and folk hero of epic proportions.  A popular legend tells of how his image on horseback has single-handedly turned away invaders during the Moro wars in Mindanao.  On Michaelmas Day people crowd the streets to watch the highlight of the celebration: a festive procession marked by the participation of comedia actors in their colorful costumes.

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COMEDIA

The comedia is a theater production based on a Jewish legend that antedates both Christianity and Islam.  Semitic tradition has it that when God commanded the angels to do obeisance to Adam, the archangels Michael and Gabriel were the first to pay their homage; Satan refused, haughtily claiming that he would not stoop to an inferior creature.  He was driven out of service to become the adversary of angels.  Iligan's Divine Comedy of Seņor San Miguel is an interpretation of this legend.  Written in the Cebuano language and first staged in 1890, it is one of the few surviving comedia performances in Philippine theater.

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Vera-Reyes Inc., 1980



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